At the Rouleur Classic last November there was a conversation about rim brakes. One of many.
“Look at all the stands. There aren’t that many new bikes that have rims brakes,” said one of the brand representatives. “If they do, don’t you think they look outdated?” He had a point.
Since the UCI lifted the ban on rims brakes, it’s been open season for the poor old brake caliper. Is anyone else picturing brake calipers being flung into the air and shot down by red-hot, swirling, disc brake rotors? No? OK.
The new S-Works Venge – a frame that you couldn’t fit a rim brake onto even if you wanted to – is only available with hydraulic disc brakes and for electronic groupsets. It’s the future, but it doesn’t look like something from a sci-fi story. It looks like a modern road bike.
It supersedes the outgoing Venge ViAS in terms of weight. It even trumps the Tarmac SL5 by coming in at 960g for the 56cm frame. This is a bid to make the bike more versatile. Aero bikes haven’t always been light; they haven’t always had the best handling characteristics either. The latter was also something the designers looked at.
Specialized calls it First-Rider Engineered. It’s how the brand captures information to produce its frames. As they had the World Champion on their books, they asked Sagan to give a few pointers on how the bike should handle. Above all, the Venge is best known for aerodynamics and Specialized say this version – compared to the old Venge ViAS – will save an extra eight seconds over 40kms.
When you look at the S-Works Venge, it doesn’t look like an illustration lifted from a science fiction book. It’s a bike representative of where cycling is at right now. And it’s right on time.